In comparison to the archetypical hip-hop producer, Ringgo Ancheta has quite an unusual biography. Ancheta’s parents were once members of the Philippine arm of the Aum Supreme Truth Cult, and as a result he was raised in the forests — that is until the group’s venture into terrorist activity caused his family to flee the group in the late 80s. They were granted political asylum here in the US and eventually settled in rural New Jersey, where Ancheta was raised on the outskirts of a commune without electricity, while his father worked as a researcher at Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
One of Ancheta’s earliest excursions into the “modern” world was a trip when he hitchhiked to Philadelphia, and as he described it, the first guy he met on the street introduced him to beat making. And within about a day, he was making his own beats on his newfound friend’s sampler. As his trips to Philadelphia became more frequent, he began using the name Mndsgn(pronounced “mind design”), inspired by the Nas lyric, “my mind is seeing through your design like blind fury,” and nod to his father’s work in neuroscience.
Ancheta eventually headed west to Los Angeles and was signed by Stone Throw Records, who have recently released his debut effort, Yawn Zen. And with the release of the album, Ancheta as Mndsgn has developed a reputation for an unusually placid sound among beatmakers. TXT (MSGS) the first single and video off the album was comprised of morning dew glistening-like synths and manages to sound as though it owes a subtle debt to Weather Channel jazz — but with an icy veneer. In some way, the track evokes the peacefulness that comes from meditation.
The latest single and video, “Sheets” is a dreamily hazy track that evokes the sensation of being roused from sleep – and in some way it also evokes the sensation of sleepiness taking over your body. Much like his previous single, there’s shimmering synths but Arncheta’s vocals come out from a thick haze and are bolstered by syrupy beats, and bursts of organ. The track manages a sleepy soulfulness – in some way, you can picture it’s creator rubbing his eyes and blinking with dull recognition and suddenly being inspired by that particular moment.
In an interview with the folks at Red Bull Music, Ancheta explained that the concept for the video “was kept simple. In a succession of hazy transitions, my astral body traces itself all the way back to my sleeping, physical body… When falling into a deep slumber, at times, you may feel the sensation of physically drifting away from your earth body. Not only did we want to use levitation as a reference to the surrealism we often experience in the dreamworld, we wanted it to loosely symbolize the female entity as referred in the song.” It emphasizes the trippy nature of the song in a way that feels all too natural and utterly right.